Kavanagh Urges Tenants to Submit Forms Avoiding Eviction
State Sen. Brian Kavanagh (D-Northern Brooklyn, Lower Manhattan) and Assembly Member Jeffrey Dinowitz (D-Bronx), who sponsored New York’s recent legislation mandating an eviction moratorium for tenants facing COVID-19 hardship, will lead a group of electeds and tenant activists today to raise awareness that tenants behind on their rent due to COVIDcan submit a Hardship Declaration Form to avoid facing eviction or unnecessary court proceedings until at least May 1.
Following a report that more than a month after enactment of the eviction moratorium, New York City housing courts have received fewer than 2,300 hardship declaration forms, the elected officials and advocates are seeking to increase awareness on how to access and submit the forms.
Although the report cited data only from New York City, anecdotal evidence suggests that greater awareness of the process is needed throughout the state.
The electeds will raise awareness at a virtual press conference at 12:30 p.m., today, Feb. 18. To participate join the Zoom meeting at https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84171863311?pwd=YVhuMTE0eGRJbXVvSWM3MHNpcDZRQT09.
Brisport Introduces Invest in Our New York Act
State Sen. Jabari Brisport (D-Fort Greene, Boerum Hill, Red Hook, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Sunset Park, Gowanus, Park Slope) and Assemblymember Michaelle Solages (D-Long Island) this week introduced the Heirs Tax to the State Senate (S3462) and Assembly (A4643) as part of the Invest In Our New York Act.
The legislative package seeks to rebuild New York’s economy and end tax breaks for the wealthiest New Yorkers. If passed, the Invest In Our New York Act would represent the single largest measure taken to close New York’s inequality gap in decades, marking a massive reversal from years of austerity budgets that have decimated public schools, affordable housing, healthcare, immigrant workers, and localities, while providing tax breaks to the wealthiest New Yorkers.
At present, New Yorkers can gain up to $5 million each year through inheritance — and pay zero tax on the sum. As a result, wealthy New Yorkers inherit multi-million dollar estates as tax free income, while their working neighbors are taxed on earned income. This bill will redress this regressive approach by replacing the current estate tax with a tax on the unearned income accumulated by heirs of inheritances, raising up to $8 billion in annual revenue. Only amounts in excess of $250,000 of the top 1% of inheritances would be affected.
“At a time when working-class people are fighting just to survive, New York’s most privileged dynasties are living more lavishly than ever off of vast sums of inherited wealth,” said Brisport. “I am proud to be introducing the Heirs Tax with Senator Sanders because it has never been more urgent that we require New York’s ultra-rich to pay equitable taxes on the fortunes they are handed.”
BP Adams Health Resolution Gets City Council Support
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams yesterday saw 27 city council members support his resolution calling on the state legislature to allow local health departments to implement changes to improve the COVID-19 vaccine rollout so that it meets the needs of the City’s vulnerable and hardest-hit communities of color.
Despite being the “epicenter of the epicenter,” outerborough Black, Latino, and Asian communities that endured the worst of the pandemic have been inoculated at far lower rates than their white counterparts. Recent reporting continues to highlight the lack of easy access to vaccination appointments, and, according to the City’s own data, residents have been forced to wait weeks, if not months, before they are able to be scheduled for one.
Resolution 1535 includes language calling on the immediate implementation of a vaccine appointment stand-by list, a vaccination hotline to make appointments in real-time, and a map of currently operating vaccine distribution sites to create a more seamless and accessible vaccination network.
“Since the beginning of the vaccination process, my colleagues in government and I have raised concerns about having a plan in place to ensure an equitable distribution. Recent data has shown our concerns were justified. We need a real-time demographic data vaccination reporting system to track vaccination rates so that we do not see the same disparities that we saw in testing, hospitalizations, and deaths,” said Adams.
“Many steps that I have called for have been implemented, such as expansion of eligibility to receive the vaccine and the establishment of 24-hour vaccination sites. However, much more remains to be done to ensure the most vulnerable are receiving the COVID-19 vaccine in proportionate rates to their eligibility. I thank the City Council for hearing our legislation today, and I urge its swift passage,” he added.
Southern Brooklyn Lawmakers Laud Cuomo’s Reopening of Coney Island
Southern Brooklyn lawmakers representing Coney Island including City Council Member Mark Treyger, U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries and State Sen. Diane Savino, and Alexandra Silversmith, Executive Director of the Alliance for Coney Island yesterday lauded Gov. Cuomo for setting the reopening date of April 9 for outdoor amusements statewide.
“The outdoor amusement district in Coney Island has been closed for almost a full year, with an estimated $100 million dollars in lost revenue due to the cancellation of the 2020 summer season. This closure–the first time in over a century–has created a dire and unstable financial situation for many struggling, local businesses, and has led to thousands of lost jobs. After months of steadfast advocacy, we are very grateful to Governor Cuomo for announcing that outdoor amusements will be allowed to reopen on April 9th and look forward to a safe, and fun 2021 season for the amusement district,” said the lawmakers in a joint statement.
“While the Governor’s announcement is great news for the family-owned amusement parks of Coney Island, we must still do more to help these anchor institutions recover after losing a full year of income in 2020. We will continue to advocate for relief that addresses the needs of seasonal amusement parks, which were unable to open last summer, from the federal, state, and local governments, including expanding eligibility for the federal Shuttered Venues relief program to amusement parks,” they added.
Menchaca Announces Public Hearing for New Sunset Park Development
City Council Member Carlos Menchaca (D-Sunset Park, Red Hook) announced that the city council next week will hold a public hearing on the proposed 14-story mixed-use building at 737 4th Avenue (corner of 25th Street) in Sunset Park.
The development calls for 135 apartments with ground-floor retail. Of these apartments, 33 will be reserved for households earning 30% – 60% of Area Median Income (AMI). In other words, a family of three making $30,000 to $60,000 a year should be able to afford them, said Menchaca.
The ground floor of the building will be rented to small retail businesses and the owner plans to build 50 underground parking spaces. Additionally, the developer will reserve space on the ground floor for the MTA to build a future elevator that will service the 25th Street R Station.
Before the elevator is built, the developer has agreed to rent the space to artists or small manufacturers. The owner is also building 20-60 secure bike/scooter parking spaces available for all.
The rezoning proposal is going through the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP).
The City Council public hearing is slated for 11 a.m., next Tuesday, Feb. 23. No Zoom link was given. For further information contact Menchaca’s office at [email protected] or 718-439-9012.